Susumu Sasaki, executive president and chief executive of Yomiuri IS, hopes to introduce the advertising medium of newspaper inserts as a marketing solution for firms.
The inserts, added immediately before newspapers are delivered, are part of modern-day Japan’s essential communication strategy, in which Yomiuri IS leads the field. Having started in the Edo period as circulars, distributed door-to-door, before newspapers were printed, inserts started being added to newspapers in the 1920s.
As they often differ from a newspaper in size, colour and paper type, they offer advertisers a distinctive medium through which to market their products. Moreover, as newspaper circulation remains high in Japan, inserts are an effective advertising tool.
“Thanks to the rise of newspaper home delivery systems, it is now possible to reach approximately 40mn households, or 70–80% of all Japanese families in their living rooms each morning”, Sasaki said.
Yomiuri IS offers an exclusive platform of integrated lifestyle communication that Sasaki is confident cannot be duplicated by competitors concentrating on existing mass-media approaches to consumers.
“I really believe we are the only company that can offer this type of service”, he said.
The firm also aspires to understand the perspective of its female audience by offering information from local businesses. In 2006, it launched “Women, insight into the Essence” (WisE), a research group designed to analyse specific insights about women, aged 15–69, through large-scale surveys. The body then categorises the female market according to the reactions of demographic sectors to the market.
Data is also gathered from analysis of products, media and advertising. As such, WisE data makes it possible to scrutinise the market from the standpoint of the consumer, and is not merely a tool for product- or company-driven market research. The firm’s Life Course Marketing Model then applies this data in marketing activities from concept creation to target customer touch points.
“We understand female purchasing psychology better than any other advertising company in Japan”, Sasaki said.
Yomiuri IS deals with some of the biggest names in retail, including Yamada Denki, Uniqlo and Nitori. These businesses are seeking more granular marketing solutions, and look to Yomiuri IS to provide them with strategic inroads into the Japanese consumer market. Among the direct marketing solutions being offered are the design and management of key performance indicators, and product and company branding that go beyond the original role of newspaper inserts as community-based media offering mainly consumer and lifestyle information.
Yomiuri IS now helps advertisers expand market share through mixed-media solutions, such as tie-ups between direct marketing, using flyers and TV or the Internet.
In particular, TV-based recommendations to “watch out for tomorrow’s newspaper inserts” have boosted sales for many advertisers.
“It is possible to boost response rates by a multiple of two or three when employing mixed media, compared with cases where each medium is used in isolation”, Sasaki said.
“Strategically combining inserts with the Internet or smartphones can help our clients effectively solve their communications challenges”, he added.
Sasaki and his staff of about 400 people have also developed a specialised database that mines national census data to create a targeting tool. The firm has broken down zip code areas by demographic characteristics referred to as “Resident Characters”.
For example, one area may be residential in nature and comprise mostly single-person households, while another area may consist of a high ratio of residents aged 50 and over. This allows retailers to promote products and services for specific consumer needs in a given area.
According to Sasaki, an ageing population and the likelihood that markets will continue to shrink mean that deeper involvement with international firms is necessary.
“If you are involved in [business-to-consumer solutions], Yomiuri IS is the best partner for you”, he said. “We can offer inroads to 40mn of Japan’s 50mn households and maintain granular information on households in the 180,000 townships throughout the country. Bring us your marketing challenges, and we will offer you solutions”.
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